DATE: Tuesday, November 25, 1980
STATEMENT FROM TIM CONNOR
My usual starting time is 7%) in the morning. So at 7:00,
I check in my keys, go to my warehouse, which is in the
basement. I have a routine that I leave my warehouse area,
come around through the arcade, up the escalators and at
the top of the escalators I grab a left and go in front
of the coffee shop, which is open and there is people in
it, to the
Deli which is at that time of the morning is always closed,
because it is the closest path that I have to get to the
area to start my visual inspection. Each morning I make
a walk through. The doors are closed and there is a sign
front of it says it is closed, but they are never locked.
I open one of the doors and come on in and as I enter and
to approximately the column in the middle of the Deli,
I heard a crackling sound, like a fire, a roaring fire going
like a big bonfire or something and I looked to the right
over to the Deli sub-station the bus station on the right
hand side (the south side of the wall) and I could see
the shadow of the flames flickering as a candle flickers
and I proceeded
to that Deli side station, stepped inside I could see a
wall of flames on the back wall, which would be the east
wall. It was a sheet of flames running from the top of
the counter to the ceiling.
NOTE: The position that Tim noted he was in he did not
get the full view of the entire rear of the Deli bus area.
could, from his position, only see th,e corner. The rest
of the Deli area was obscurred from his view at the
From there, I went directly to the telephone, which is
back at the entrance behind the desk and I called Security.
told Security that they had a fire in the Deli and he asked
me if it is bad enough for the Fire Department, and I said,
“Hell yes, roll em”. I hung up the phone, started
back toward the fire house cabinet, which is in the hallway
the Deli and the restaurant row. As I approached that,
pressure and smoke, I was pushed backwards and knocked off
my feet in front of the booths right there and I came down
in front of the booths, went over and opened the front
doors (the bi-fold doors) and swung the sign out of the
way and at that time was when Security met me and they were
running across the casino and up the stairs toward me.
The lead man asked me if I knew where the fire hose cabinet
was in this area. I said, “Yes, around by Barrymore”.
And I ran around to the fire hose cabinet, which is inside
alcove just outside of the Barrymore restaurant. There
was nobody with me. I remembered he was taking off his gun
and handing it to another guy as I approached this, so
I broke the glass, opened the fire hose (cabinet) door and
opened the door, he, or somebody, reached by me and spun
fire house out and turned it on. I could remember seeing
the water dripping out of it so I know it was on.
The only remaining course to me was to take the bottle.
I took the bottle and I went through the little passage
there, which is a door passage way into the Deli. I entered
the Deli there and he obviously took the hose and went to
the front of the Deli, probably not knowing the passage
way existed. At which time I started around the corner to
into the bus station, which is directly around the corner
from the alcove and the smoke, pressure, whatever pushed
backwards knocking me into the alcove. .
QUESTION: You had stated that when you started to step
down the two steps that come out of the little switch-back
hallway, did you see smoke, and what was it doing at the
time you saw it?
Yes, I do remember seeing smoke, an extreme amount and
it was swirling, it wasn’t swirling, it was like a
sea in a
wind tunnel. How you see it go around something or over
something, you see it was coming down and across. It was
just swirling like a wing type deal. I remember seeing
QUESTION: This smoke effect appeared to be coming from
what portion of the Deli?
It was coming out of the side station. Directly out of
the side station and that was when pressure hit me and
knocked me backwards and then I wound up in the, when I
stood up in the alcove there I remembered thinking that
have got to go to the casino and I stood up and I was totally
engulfed in smoke, but I could still see where I was going.
I remembered that I could still see the carpet. I could
see the floor, but I couldn’t breath, so I got down
and I started
moving and the lights went out. I don’t know if the
lights went out or if I was engulfed in more smoke or whatever
was, but I could not see, I could not breath and somehow
headed for the Casino I wound up against the stairs in
Caruso and when I got to the stairs at Caruso, knowing
the hotel as I do, I went up the stairs, across a little
hit the doors there, which were fortunately unlocked, they
were chained, but they were unlocked. That’s how I
the area. I never got into the casino. I never seen the
security or the actual fire, after my first encounter with
it. I never
seen the fire, but I never felt heat, but the smoke was
QUESTION: (Tom C/em) Tim would you describe the difference
between the environment that you were in at the
front of the gate, versus the other side of the gate as
far as the smoke, heat or whatever?
Yes. After I opened it, I knew, because there was no air,
I could not breath. As I was going through there I
remember when I got to the stairs, I kept thinking of the
fountain, which is right inside Caruso. I felt those stairs
there is only one set of stairs. They go to Caruso. When
I got inside and I opened the doors I could stand up. I
see the lights were on and there was air. Smoke had not
entered that. It was headed toward the casino and it was
going into that at that moment and I ran on through there
and at that time for some reason, two people came out of
the kitchen area, they came out of the electric doors.
So the electricity was on in there. And I still don’t
know if the
lights went off or whether I was just totally engulfed
in smoke in restaurant row. That still puzzles me.
QUESTION: (Tom Clem) You are saying then Tim that it could
have been possible that the smoke was obscuring
the lights that were in the ceiling?
This is what I am thinking because at this time of the
day all of those restaurants, Barrymore, Caruso, Gigi are
closed. They are in the process of cleanup. There are lights
on inside of there that that they turn up so that they can
clean up and they turn down when they are through. At that
time of the morning, at 7:00 in the morning Barrymore is
usually being vacuumed. At 790 in the morning Caruso is
usually closed as is Gigi and they alternate with them as
as vacuuming and carpeting cleaning, which is a constant
QUESTION: (Tom Clem) I want to go back to when you originally
saw the shadow of flickering flames and you
went up through the entrance door of the deli bus stand
and you looked in the back. I want you to describe the level
the flames. Where they were as opposed to were they on
the floor, were they on the shelf, the ceiling? Describe
When I stepped in, I looked at this wall of flame. It was
running from the counter to the ceiling and I remembered
since then that there is a shelf along there and as I looked
in those flames, I could not see this shelf, cause it was
wall of flame and it was just like a bon-fire in the open.
It was really...really on fire. I mean it’s really
hot and burning
and that’s the impression that I got there, but it
was running from the top of the counter up to the ceiling.
QUESTION: (Tom Clem) And from your best observation, it
did not appear that it was coming from the ground, or
the floor or the tile?
No. It was definitely not coming from the floor. There
was no question in my mind at all. It was from the top of
the counter up. It was not coming, it was not below the
countertop, which is a stainless steel countertop. This
QUESTION: Tim, I also know that from our previous conversation
before we taped, that you were involved in some
of the interior finish work, tile work in this room. Would
you describe for us the tile, where it was and how it ran
little more of the interior finish that you described a
few minutes ago to me?
The original on this, behind each one of the booths, or
on the booths walls behind in the alcoves, all the booths
in kind of an alcove effect. There was tile running from
the booth from just below the top of the booths to the top
the ceiling with pictures on all these walls of all the
entertainers of the past and that ran in all of the booth
areas, all the
way around the entire room. Approximately a year to a year
and a half ago we had gone in and put in tile floors and
bays in each one of the two bus stations, had completely
redone the bus station in the back and taken out the counters
in there and put all tile all the way around all the added
booth areas from the back of the sub station in question
way around to the kitchen area in the back and the interior
on the back wall of that sub-station we put tile on.
QUESTION: The construction, the finish materials of the
bus station. How did that...
That was masonite, either formica or masonite, I really
don’t know what it is, it’s about one eighth
of an inch
thick and it is a very non-porous, slick finish. It is
easy to clean and it is locked in with glue and little metal
they ran that from the top of the base to the ceiling in
each one of the bus stations in the room for cleanliness
elminate any breakage in the walls due to the carts and
throwing of the dishes, etc.
QUESTIONS: How did the finish of the walls that were not
tiled differ from the tiled walls, as far as the finished
They were dry wall. Taped dry wall with wallpaper. I don’t
remember the wallpaper in here. This you would have
to check with our wallpaper people downstairs. They have
replacements in stock for this for all of the rooms in here,
so you could get a piece of that if you wanted it.
QUESTION: Who would be in charge of that, the wallpaper?
The wallpaper in there would be Warran Garner.
QUESTION: (Wayne Burns) Tim, to go back one more time,
when you stepped inside of the area where you could
see the backs of the Deli side station and you made reference
to a wall of flame in there, could you go into a little
detail as to the size of it, approximately how wide it
was, what portion of the wall appeared to be engulfed in
From what I could see, it was a total mass of flames. It
ran from the top of the counter to the ceiling. It was burning
really strong, really...like a...1 don’t know how
to describe it. Like a really big bon-fire, where the flames
really just jumping up. It’s really burning out of
control. You know, if it would have been a small type fire,
have notified security and acted a little differently.
It was totally out of control. I remember this explicitly
that it was
totally out of control. That it was nothing that I could
handle... we had to get the fire department. We had to get
people who knew what they were doing. I am not a fire fighter.
I know nothing about fire and I am not about to play
games with it. I have people in that business. My son is
very well educated in that and he has stressed the point
that I know nothing. Give it to somebody who knows what
they are doing.
QUESTION: (Tom Clem) If we ran an analogy of a controlled
log in a fireplace, that flickering and that vine of
flame that would come up from that would be alot different
than the type of roaring flame...
Yes. To me, as I can remember in my mind, it would be like
a roaring “fed” fire, where you have extreme
or something hitting it, just screaming up.. . not just
a nice easy burning fire like in a fireplace, but I mean
a very hard
fire, where it is really out of control, just going for
all it was worth. -
QUESTION: That was on the 21st, yesterday, November Zlst.
Yes. We met in the Engineer Shop at about quarter to 7,
had a cup of coffee and discussed the work situation. I
had two men that had come in earlier and they were in the
Zeigfield drying out a floor that I had set the previous
Two of the men went to the 10th floor to change their clothes.
At 7%) I picked up my keys, went to the shop, opened it
up and the other two were there and I went up, as I usually
do. I came out of the garage, down through security by the
elevators, up the escalators past the coffee shop and into
the Deli. I have a habit of going through the Deli because
closed this time of the day. I can go into the kitchen
on my way down through the back hallway to the Zeigfield
I was going. As I entered, I opened the doors in the Deli
(which the doors are always closed, they are not locked,
are just closed) I walked inside, getting inside about
half way, probably near the column in the middle there,
I heard a
crackling sound to the right and I seen the shadow of fire
in the bus station on the south side of the Deli, or the
righthand side there. I went over to there...
QUESTION: Now the right hand side, that’s as you
are standing at the door, you are looking into the Deli,
Yes. And I went over there immediately and looked inside
and there was fire shooting from the stainless steel pan
up to the ceiling. It was a sheet of fire. I could not
see the wall, it was just a sheet of fire there. But it
was just from the
pan to the ceiling. So I immediately ran back through the
tables to the entrance there and behind the cashiers counter
there is a telephone. I pushed the buttons, 4481, notified
the security they had a fire in the Deli. He said, Is it
to roll the fire department? I says Yes, get them going.
I immediately went back to the scene of the fire in the
Just as I started in there I realized as I am headed for
it that there is a fire hose cabinet on the back side of
small hallway that goes from the Deli to the Barrymore,
or Restaurant Row, there. There is a fire hose cabinet there.
have done the marble and tile work here and I know the
area well. I started for this and I was blown back by pressure.
Not by heat or by flames, but by pressure.
QUESTION: Air pressure?
Air pressure is what it felt like...
QUESTION: What direction was it flowing?
It was coming towards me.
QUESTION: Into the building?
No, it was going from the fire out toward the casino, air
QUESTION: Was it warm air, or just.. .
I didn’t feel any heat. I don’t remember feeling
any heat. I have no sense of smell so I don’t know
if there was any
smell involved or not. So I turned and I ran back out,
opened both doors in the Deli, swung the sign out of the
that security could get in there, because I assumed that
they would be bringing something. At that time, three security
officers came from the casino, one of them running very
hard and trying to take off his gun at the same time, the
Italian guy. I don’t know his name. But the three
security men came there and the one guy in the lead (the
he asked me “is there a fire hose cabinet in this
area?” I said “Yes, around by the Barrymore”.
And I ran as hard as I
can around through Restaurant Row back through the Barrymore
and I beat him there and I hesitated there for a second
thinking he was there and would have a key. And when he
wasn’t there, I broke the glass on fire hose cabinet,
opened it and I reached for the hose and at that time he
got ahold of the hose, I assume that it was him. I never
seen...there was somebody along side of me who grabbed
the hose, started reeling it out and turning the water on.
There was a bottle there, fire entinguisher bottle. I grabbed
the bottle and when he went into the Restaurant Row I
went around through this. I don’t know whether he
knew that that was a travelers entrance into the Deli or
not. It was
the shortest distance to the fire, but he would not have
known that. I did. I went that way with the fire hose bottle
as I got through the door, I turned the bottle on and the
pressure blew me back against the wall. It was not heat,
not fire, it was pressure and extreme black smoke. It blew
me back against the wall.
QUESTION: Like a real strong gust of wind...away from the
Yes. That was the way it hit me, but it seemed to be more
QUESTION: At this time how large was the fire? Was it growing
I didn’t see the fire. The fire was on the back side
of this. All there was was extreme black smoke and I did
not see any
QUESTION: And a strong gust of wind and that’s when
you decided to get out?
Well, it hit me and moved me backwards and I turned to
go back toward the casino, to go around that way to
confront it and either smoke or the electricity went off,
because I had no more... I could not see anything and I
not breath. The smoke engulfed me and I could not breath
and I hit the deck and the hose was going out so I assumed
that they were confronting the fire from the front and
I could not see where the casino was. I had no idea where
it was totally black.
QUESTION: You don’t happen to know the names of either
one of these people you mentioned?
I have no idea. There was three security men and I have
no idea who the three of them are.
QUESTION: O.K. You know this is being taped for statement
purposes? You are aware of that?
QUESTION: If we need to get a written statement from you,
would you make one for us at any time?
I would be glad
Transcript of interview conducted with Dave Beshoar, 26year-old
fire fighter from West Springs, IL. November 22,
1980 at the MGM Hotel site in Las Vegas, NV.
Beshoar was one of four West Springs fire fighters on’vacation
in Las Vegas and staying at the MGM. Two of these
men perished in the fire.
We walked into the Orleans Room at 7: 15 - the reason I
know that is that there was a man sitting at the first table
and he asked the waitress what time it was and she said
7:15 and I jokingly remarked to him, “That’s
a.m.” We sat
down, they brought us our coffee, had a couple sips, a
security guard walked in through the door - we were about
second table in to the right as you faced into the restaurant
- and I could see him walk in, he was looking right at me.
He said (not quoted) Gentlemen, I’m going to have
to ask you to leave, there’s a small fire next door
evacuating this area as a precautionary measure. So we
got up and left and were the first ones to reach the door
there were people already running out from behind us. The
smoke at that point out in the hallway was about a little
higher than head height, we looked into the deli, which
was to our left, and there was heavy smoke in there and
could see flame through the smoke.
There was a security guard standing there - I don’t
know if it was the same one who asked us to leave, but we
ourselves as fire fighters and asked him for a fire extinguisher
or hose line and we’d help knock down the fire till
the fire department got here. He said they were not accessible,
said they couldn’t get to them, so we went looking
some ourselves. We walked all the way back to the north
wall and then back to the east past the elevators looking
fire extinguisher or hose line and we couldn’t find
one, so we went back to the restaurant area outside the
By that time the smoke was really billowing out of the
deli area. You could see quite a bit more flames. The smoke
at that point out in the hall area was about waist height
and there were still people coming out of the Orleans Room,
we instructed them to all get down low and make their way
out that way so they could get fresh air, of course. We
started working our way toward these fire exit doors along
the north wall here ourselves. When we got here there was
one door open, we opened the rest of the doors, we stayed
back to make sure everybody was out. The only people we
saw still in there were casino people, several guards,
and perhaps a small handful of (I imagine) they were dealers.
At that point there was a loud click, the lights went out,
and the whole casino floor darkened. You could hardly
see the smoke billowing across the ceiling, all the way
across the casino floor toward the west end. We looked back
toward the restaurant area and the flames were already
coming out toward where the ceiling raises up over the casino.
At that point, standing at this door over here in the middle
of the north wall, the heat was already getting so intense
we had to leave. So we came outside and the rest I think
is history and you can gather that from these people.
QUESTION: Wasn’t there kind of a backflash (flashover)?
No, well, I was still inside until possible as long as
a minute after the electricity went out. I don’t recall
any type of
QUESTION: No big ball of fire?
No, the deli restaurant was totally involved at that point
and the flames were curling out along the ceiling working
toward that higher ceiling over the casino coming out almost
straight west by northwest.
(OTHER VOICES IN BACKGROUND)
I came out before the line was advanced into the building
through this door and we were standing approximately
right here in front of these revolving doors and that’s
when the chairs and suitcases and everything else started
through the windows, so we went across the street and just
watched from there.
Eight to ten minutes after we were asked to leave the restaurant
that canopy was burning. It was so super heated
within no more than four minutes could have elapsed, that
by the time we got to these doors we stood there until we
couldn’t take the heat anymore. I don’t know,
within three or four minutes-it was super heating along
the top of the
ceiling and once that flame hit the higher casino roof,
there was no stopping it. Everything was there - the heat,
content was good - the only thing they needed was open
flame and as soon as it hit that roof it raced.
QUESTION: There is a theory going around that there was
a delayed alarm because it spread too fast,. . .
No, absolutely not because the first rig was parked right
here by the time I hit that door the first time. The very
first time, and that couldn’t have been more than
two minutes maybe.
QUESTION: There was no delayed alarm?
None, and two minutes later it’s pouring out. (Background
comment). Oh, it was incredible. I’m sure those
guards that were in there - when I left because it was
too hot - I don’t know, I seriously question whether
or not they
made it out. They were sitting right across from here -
we could see them from this door - we could see people still
the casino floor and they were all dressed in security
uniforms and I don’t know.
Report of Interview with Alice Brown, 2133 Glen Heather
Way, Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 22, 1980.
Ms. Brown is a Cashier in the Coin Cage at the MGM Hotel
Casino. She was working the 11:00 p.m., November 20,
1980 to 7:00 a.m., November 21, 1980 Shift. She stated
That about lo:30 p.m. on November 20, 1980, she was walking
on the Audry St. side of the MGM enroute to the
employees entrance. She looked up at the building and saw
yellow orange sparks emanating from an area of the
building near the new construction on the south side of
the building. She then proceeded to the employees time clock
area and reported what she saw to the security guard who
was on duty. As she walked away from the security desk she
heard the guard on the phone reporting what she’d
Ms. Brown was asked if she noticed anything during her
shift or whether she observed any flickering lights. She
stated that she didn’t observe anything unusual or
smell anything, but she did say that she had noticed flickering
frequently while employed at the MGM. She said that it
was common for the lights to dim and flicker and she
wouldn’t necessarily pay any attention to that.
Ms. Brown stated that she left the coin cage at 7:15 a.m.
and went to check out. By the time she got to the
employee area and checked out someone told her there was
a fire in the casino. When she walked to the parking lot
and looked back the flames were already visible
RICHARD W. HAYNES
Statement of Richard W. Haynes, Special Agent, Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, Las Vegas, Nevada, made
on November 24, 1980.
During the evening hours of November 21, 1980, I was located
in the office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco &
Firearms, located at Room 312 Federal Building, 300 Las
Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, Nevada. My responsibilities
during this period consisted of maintaining radio communications
with agents located on the fire scene at the MGM
Grand Hotel, locating and interviewing via telephone, certain
witnesses as directed by agents on the scene and in
general coordinating communications between agents on the
scene and those elsewhere employed.
During the hours 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., November 21, 1980,
I had occasion to telephonically contact, or attempt
to contact the below identified individuals with the indicated
Eva Gibson (702-457-3999); Ms. Gibson advised she did not
notice any flickering of the electrical lights prior to
during the fire. Gibson further stated that she would like
to add the following information to the interview she had
given Special Agent Deal of this Office.
1. That subsequent to the fire she had been told by the
mother of Glenn Martin, (649-1295), a busboy employed
in the Coffee Shop at the MGM, that Glenn stated he had
smelled smoke just prior to departing the MGM on
November 21, 1980 at approximately 7:00 a.m.
2. That the wall she observed bursting into flames was
the wall opposite that which divides the coffee shop and
Robert Lee (702-459-2051); that he had not noticed any
flickering of electrical lights prior to or during the fire
Coffee Shop area.
Clara Mefferd - telephone number given was 496-5576. I
was informed by the telephone operator that no prefix such
as 496 exists in the Las Vegas Metropolitan area. All subsequent
efforts to contact Ms. Mefferd proved unsuccessful.
Jim Connor - believed to be a tile fitter who frequented
the Coffee Shop. Telephone number 451-5504, was repeatedly
tried with no answer.
S/Richard W. Haynes, Special Agent, ATF
Report of interview with Bobby Combs on November 21, 1980
at approximately 5:45 p.m. via telephone from
702-385-6584, (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Office, Room 312 Federal Building, Las Vegas, Nevada),
to 702-451-8276, (Residence of Bobby Combs), by Special
Agent Richard W. Haynes, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
Mr. Combs stated that he is employed as a Blackjack Dealer
by the MGM Casino and that on the morning of
November 21, 1980, he had reported for work at 4:OO a.m.
Combs stated that at approximately 7:00 a.m. on
November 21, 1980, he was dealing Blackjack in the casino
when he heard a commotion coming from and saw people
running in and about the end of the Casino near the Coffee
Shop. At first Combs thought it was a fight until someone
yelled “Fire”. At this time he saw dense black
smoke entering the Casino area from the area of the Coffee
Combs’ Pitboss told all dealers to put a “lid”
on the games. Combs reported that by the time he had reached
the table, located and placed the glass lid over the chip
tray, he looked up to see bright red flames reaching half
the ceiling, rolling down the step area located at the
end of the Casino adjacent to the coffee shop. Combs stated
hesitated only a short time and then headed for the casino
exit. Before reaching the door the Casino’s lights
blacked out by the smoke and Combs stated that for an instant
he didn’t think he would make it to the doors.
Combs stated that he was not positive, but that his impression
was that the smoke had an odor about it of burning
electrical wire. Combs stated that neither prior to or
during the above described episode did he notice any flickering
the lights. When asked if he knew a Frank Massi or Frank
Manti believed to be a stagehand at the MGM, he stated he
S/Richard W. Haynes, Special Agent, ATF -
Report of Interview with Doris Kitsmiller, 321 Oil Lantern
Lane, Las Vegas, Nevada, 878-1049 by John F. Rice, at the
h4GM on November 22, 1980.
Mrs. Kitsmiller is the head hostess at the MGM Coffee Shop,
Deli and Dealers’ Lounge. On November 21, 1980,
she went off duty about 2:30 a.m. She had been working
since 6:00 p.m. on November 20, 1980.
Mrs. Kitsmiller stated that she was constantly through
the Coffee Shop and Deli Area during her shift. She did
not smell any smoke or notice any flickering of lights
or see anything unusual during this time. She also stated
none of her employees reported anything unusual to her
during the shift.
Mrs. Kitsmiller said that she closed the Deli at approximately
1:lO a.m. on November 21, 1980. The Deli is open
from 8:00 a.m. to 1:OO a.m. daily. Mrs. Kitsmiller stated
that the Deli is not locked when it’s closed. She
went on to
say that she checked the Deli again at 2:30 a.m. before
going off duty. She stated that everything was normal at
S/John F. Rice, Special Agent, ATF
My employee number is 27370 and I work in the Coffee Shop,
I went into the Deli between 5 and 6. I put the deli out
in each station, 1, 2, and 3, and I left, out of the deli.
QUESTION: Did you see anything, smell anything, hear anything?
I didn’t see a thing.
Report of Interview with Jean Hartman, 4236 Cottage Circle,
#4, Phone 734-2275, by Special Agent John F. Rice, on
November 24, 1980.
Ms. Hartman is employed at the Grand Gift Shop on the Basement
Level of the MGM Grand Hotel. The Gift
Shop is located at the bottom of the escalator to the casino.
Ms. Hartman stated that on November 20, 1980, about 8:45
a.m. she came to work at the Gift Shop. Upon entering
the Gift Shop she noticed that there was a smokey haze
in the area. She said the smoke had an odor similar to car
exhaust. She said that the odor cleared up after about
ten minutes with people coming in and out. She said that
didn’t notice anything else during the rest of the
- VERLIN CHARLES EVERIST, JR.
Statement of Verlin Charles Everist, Jr., made at 4324
San Angelo Street, on November 22, 1980 in the presence
Special Agents Richard W. Haynes and Douglas W. Coombs
of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.
My name is Verlin Charles Everist Jr. and my nickname is
Buster. I have been employed eight years at the MGM
Hotel and have been dealing craps for the last four years.
I had started the 2:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. shift on November
20, 1980. On November 20, 1980 at 7:OO a.m. I was taking
the escalator from the lower floor, where the dealer break
room is located, to the Casino Floor. The escalator is
located adjacent to the Deli and Coffee Shop area. In the
escalator well I noticed a mist or haze, and a slight smell
of smoke in that area. I continued up to the Casino floor,
dealt my shift for one hour and upon my return down the
escalator to the break room, I did not notice the haze or
smoke smell. I did not hear anyone else mention about the
haze at that time and I forgot about it until the fire break
out the next morning. After I had evacuated the MGM on
the morning of the 21st of November, I was having a drink
with my Shift Boss George Roota (phonetic), and I mentioned
this incident to him.
Subscribed and Sworn to before me
this 22nd day of November, 1980
S/Richard W. Haynes, Special Agent, ATF
S/Douglas W. Coombs, Special Agent, ATF
Report of interview with Kent Oborn, on November 21, 1980,
at 1809 Harwood Street, N. Las Vegas, Nevada, by
Special Agent Douglas W. Coombs, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
& Firearms and Larry Bouchette, Las Vegas,
Nevada Fire Investigator.
Mr. Oborn stated that he has been employed by the MGM as
a Chef since December of 1973. Mr. Oborn stated
that on the morning of November 21, 1980, he was working
the 7:OO a.m. till 3:00 p.m. shift. Mr. Oborn stated that
approximately 7:lO a.m., while he was cooking bacon on
the broiler, a waitress came up to him and stated there
fire in the Deli. Mr. Oborn stated he did not know the
identity of the waitress. Mr. Oborn said that he went into
Deli and observed flame extending approximately two feet
all around the Keno Board in the Deli. Mr. Oborn stated
that the Keno Board is located on the south wall in between
the side stand and the east wall. Mr. Oborn also said that
the Keno Board was approximately three feet by four feet.
Mr. Oborn said that these flames were orange and red in
color and were accompanied by black smoke.
Mr. Oborn said as soon as he saw the flames he immediately
went to the telephone and notified the operator that
there was a bad fire in the Deli. Mr. Oborn stated that
he then grabbed the water hose and was about to spray the
but he heard someone say don’t put water on an electrical
fire. Mr. Oborn said he then just dropped the hose on the
floor. Mr. Oborn said the lights then went out in the Kitchen
Mr. Oborn stated he then saw the fire was getting out of
control and he advised his fellow workers to get out of
the kitchen. Mr. Oborn stated that he and his fellow employees
exited through a smoke filled hallway which led to an
HARVEY B. GINSBERG
I, Harvey B. Ginsberg, being 38 yers of age and residing
at 5350 Hibbetts Drive, City of Las Vegas, State of Nevada,
wish to make the following statement:
On the morning of November 21, 1980, I had scheduled a
business breakfast to be held in the MGM Grand Coffee
Shop at approximately 7:15 a.m. I left my car under the
canopy of the west entrance of the MGM for valet parking
and was approximately the sixth car in line. I left my
car without taking a parking ticket and entered the west
of the hotel approximately 7: 18 a.m. Upon entering the
hotel I noticed a foggy, smokey atmosphere, especially in
ceiling area of the casino. My first impression was the
air conditioning system was not working properly. At this
I did not anticipate that the smoke was a result of fire,
since business was proceeding as usual in the casino.
I walked down the middle aisle of the casino in the direction
of the coffee shop. I arrived at the steps at the rear of
the casino at approximately 7:20 a.m. At this point I noticed
some flickering flames which appeared to come from the
direction of the escalator. At just about the same time,
I noticed people running in various directions near the
and in front of the escalator near the coffee shop and
deli. It appeared as though panic was setting in, so I turned
around and trotted approximately halfway back out of the
casino in a westerly direction. At this point I felt safe,
however, after turning around and looking toward the rear
of the casino, I noticed that the flames had already entered
the casino area and appeared to be a swiftly rolling wall
of flame reaching from floor to ceiling.
I then started to run toward the front of the casino as
fast as I could. While I was running, other people started
run and chairs from the Black Jack table were strewn in
the aisle, and as a matter of fact, I tripped on one of
still managed to get out of the casino in about 20-25 seconds,
from the point halfway in the casino.
Upon leaving the west entrance I noticed that my car was
still in front of the hotel and that it was now first in
I jumped in my car and drove across Flamingo and entered
the underground parking of the Barbary Coast Hotel. I
parked in the first spot reserved for registered guests
at the Barbary Coast and then walked out of the parking
Flamingo. From the time I entered my car to the time I
left my car and walked back onto Flamingo, the time elapse
was approximately 45 seconds.
As soon as I arrived back on Flamingo, I noticed the flames
had broken through the west entrance of the hotel
and were now engulfing the canopy, as well as the entire
area surrounding the front of the hotel.
It is my impression, that from the time I entered the hotel
at 7:18 a.m. to the time that I was outside the hotel and
noticed the front entrance on fire, the elapsed time was
approximately 5-6 minutes.
S/Harvey S. Ginsberg
Report of interview with Mrs. Eva Gilson, Phone # 457-3999,
on November 21, 1980, at 5:30 p.m. in Las Vegas,
Nevada made to Special Agent James D. Deal, Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms.
Mrs. Gibson states that she is employed at the MGM Grand
Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the Coffee Shop.
Mrs. Gibson states that she arrived to work in the Coffee
Shop at approximately 6:25 a.m. on the morning of
November 21, 1980. She further states that she observed
nothing, nor smelled anything out of the ordinary. However,
Mrs. Gibson did state that the sewage system was being
cleaned and that it smelled bad in the kitchen area.
Mrs. Gibson stated that she saw smoke coming from the Delicatessen
area one second and then observed the wall
which separates the Coffee Shop from the Delicatessen area
burst into a reddish orange colored flame. At this point
Mrs. Gibson left the area immediately and escaped the ensuing
S/James D. Deal, Special Agent, ATF
ROBERT LEE -
Report of interview with Mr. Robert Lee, Phone# 459-2051,
on November 21, 1980, at 6:15 p.m. in Las Vegas,
Nevada, made to Special Agent James D. Deal, Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Mr. Lee states that he is employed at the MGM Grand Hotel
in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the Commissary Department.
Mr. Lee states that he arrived at work at 6:00 a.m. on
the morning of November 21, 1980. Mr. Lee further states
that he observed nothing or smelled anything out of the
Mr. Lee states that he was first notified there was a fire
in the building by one Jose Varges, who is an employee of
the MGM Grand Hotel. Mr. Lee stated that Mr. Varges led
a small group of people out of the hotel. Mr. Lee further
stated that he left the casino area before he had a chance
to observe any flames or smoke.
S/James D. Deal, Special Agent, ATF
My name is Louis Miranti, I work at MGM. My address is
315 1 Eastern, Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time, at 6:00
o’clock or 6:20 on the morning of the fire, Friday,
I was working in the eye in the sky and I was at approximately
a.m. standing in the sky over Pit #l which is the main
pit in the “21” games. The pit is approximately
across from the
casino cage, the opposite end of the casino. I was down
there checking the game between 6:20 or 6:25 and approximately
a quarter to 790 or ten minutes to 7:00 I noticed nothing
unusual in the casino. I headed back to my office
which was towards the front of the casino on the north
side, northwest side of the casino corner. I went up the,
through the two doors and, the two doors that leads me
to the executive elevators going to the third floor. I went
the elevator going to the third floor. I went up the elevator
to the third floor, went to my office which was somewhere
close, or between the public relations office and the auditing
office. That’s the door to the eye. I looked into
and it was about almost five minutes to seven, no smoke,
I smelled nothing, saw nothing unusual, stayed up on the
third floor elevation, went into my office which is the
extreme west end of the eye in the sky. Ah, approximately,
down to make my hourly report approximately five or ten
minutes after seven I heard crackling noises and I didn’t
think that was too unusual because they weren’t too
loud and at that hour in the morning morning we usually
maintenance men up sometime to clean up or vacuum the floors
and, ah, so when I heard the noises I was figuring
well, in another minute or two Security always beings them
up. He’ll come and check with me that’s it.
Well, five more
minutes went by and the crackling sounds got worse. In
fact, the noise was so unusual me being up there for so
years I knew every sound. That sound was so unusual that
I says I’d better take a look. And, ah, it felt like,
like a crackling sound of a very intense fire. That’s
the way it sounded. I went out of my office, I went over
landing, the stairwell, and I looked into the sky and before
I went down the steps I could see oh, approximately 300
feet or more, that is, if you want to pinpoint it, from
the west end of that sky I would be looking a little bit
of the casino cages, which would bring me somewhere maybe
100, 150 feet from the casino cages so you are looking at
maybe 100 feet west of the Deli and the rest, the Coffee
Shop’s door. I was west, maybe I could see 100 feet
that, those doors, and I saw this billow of smoke, like
a tidal wave coming towards me. Ah, just a flash came to
mind, it’s coming too fast, you’d better run.
So I just turned around instead of going to the office to
pick up anything,
I knew it was coming that fast. I just opened the door
and ran out of the sky, shut the door behind me. I thought
maybe I could slow it up. I didn’t see any flame,
all I saw was smoke, so I thought I’d slow up the
smoke. Well, I ran
to the hallway leading back to the executive offices and
the executive elevators. The elevator wasn’t there
so I ran
down the steps. I got down to the bottom of the steps and
there’s a double doors there that go into the casino
area of the front desk and the, between the front desk
and the bell captain’s desk. I saw through the glass
that all the
smoke, and it was almost to the glass, but I looked out
and saw it already took over the front end, but I felt the
and I knew if I opened those doors, unconsciously I knew,
that if I opened the doors I’d never make it to the
door because it was already enveloped. But the heat of
that smoke that I felt through the doors I knew that I had
out of there and I ran back up the stairs. And when I got
to the top landing of the stairs I found that the, that
hallway that I came out of, that leads from the auditing
department was full of smoke already. In other words, that
smoke followed me out of that, in that hallway. I found
that I couldn’t go back down the stairs. The elevator
The only thing left for me to do was to break the windows,
the glass doors rather, that led into the executive offices.
broke those doors with my shoulder, ran through the executive
offices, broke the two double doors on the other end,
the back end, of the executive offices. The only thing
I think that saved my life is I knew there was an exit in
auditing office, so I, at that point, I had to make a decision
either to go straight towards the computer room or turn
left by the toilet and go around the toilet and go into
that side and I decided to take that route because for fear
there may be some locked doors if I went straight and I
made the right decision. Because when I got to auditing,
doors 1 had to push them open and I ran through auditing
and at the end of that room which, where the big safe is,
maybe 100 feet, I found this door that I knew was there.
I opened it and it was full of smoke. But I looked behind
and I saw the smoke was chasing me there too and I knew
I couldn’t go back. So I held that door open and I
down at the floor and I see two brand new turkish towels.
I picked them up, put them in my face and went to the
closest, that I thought would be the closest exit. I looked
in that hallway, I shut my eyes and I felt the doors, I
first one and it was locked. The second one was open. I
got in there, stepped down, I ran my foot up and down to
it was concrete. It was. I knew I had the right door. I
grabbed for a rail and I went down three, I think three
stairs. I got to the base of the stairway, I opened by
eyes and I saw pitch black. My eyes started burning. I closed
and I said I better take one more shot and I’ll yell
for help. I took the towel off of my face and I took in
all the smoke
and I was able to holler for help and I heard a voice about
maybe 200 feet to my right and I said, and he says, the
says, come this way. And I said you’d better keep
talking because I can’t hear you, I mean I could hear
you but I can’t
see you. You’d better keep talking. And then I covered
my mouth and I seem to have taken in too much smoke at that
point. And I headed for that direction and I headed towards
the voice. I got maybe 100, 150 feet, maybe 125 feet and
knew that was the last breath I could take in that towel
because the towel was saturated. I took the breath and I
I’d drop to the ground and maybe I could pick up
some air on the ground and crawl to the guy. But I seemed
lost consciousness at that time and I had my hand out in
front of me trying to protect myself while I was running
wouldn’t hit anything and I felt someone grab my
hand and pull me out. The next thing I knew was the security
was pulling on my left hand saying, pulling the towels
away from my mouth because I probably was in shock and I
wouldn’t let go and he was pulling that off of me
and saying, “Breathe fresh air, breathe fresh air”
and he pulled the
towels away from me and he brought me to. And we were outside
the, the big sliding doors, the delivery doors on the
south end of the, south, west end of the building behind
the Hallelujah Hollywood stage where they make deliveries
for scenery. And he had me out those doors. I was just
lucky that he came in to take a look around to see if there
anybody else in there and I happened to catch him at that
moment. He brought me to outside. Then a car picked me
up and took me around the building to the Flamingo side
where I told him my car was parked and he took me to the
fire department and the fire department gave me some air,
saved my life, and I got in my car and went straight to
Sunrise Hospital, stayed there about 28 hours and Dr. Venger
released me. And that’s it.
Okay, this is Investigator Wayne Burns. We’re going
to have a taped statement from Firefighter Bert Sweeny.
The time is X-42 a.m. on November 27, 1980. At this time
we are inside the Flamingo entrance to the MGM Hotel.
Okay Bert, if you can just start from the beginning and
tell me everything that happened when you pulled up on
Engine II and stopped the truck.
Okay, understand we left the station at 7: 18, pulled in
97 at 7: 19, we dismounted the truck, put on our high-rise
gear, walked in through the swinging doors, and went down
to the exit entry ramp to the casino floor, straight in
of the doors. At that time...
QUESTION: About how far is that, Bert, from the exit door?
It’s roughly 36 to 40 feet.
Okay, at that time all of us stopped and, ah, you can see
ah, sort of a stratified layer of black smoke, just a small
one back in say the first quarter of the casino floor from
the area of origin. Okay, at the same time we noticed this
stratified layer which was probably down about 6 to 8 feet
from the ceiling. Ah, a fire ball and a heavy dense black
cloud with a little bit of flame visible in tne perimeter
of the flames started rolling out. The main body of the
cloud was in contact with the ceiling and as it came out
towards the center of the casino ah, it just sort of angled
to where it was touching the floor as it came out. At that
time that we saw it first coming towards us we turned back
around and it took roughly twelve seconds to get from where
we seen it at first to get back to the doors. By that time
the smoke had dropped down to within about four feet of
the floor. We came through the swinging doors and out to
the engine which took about a total elapsed time of 25
seconds at the pace we were walking from the point we seen
coming out of the area of origin until we got to the engine.
At the same time we got to the engine I looked down to the
west end of the hotel and saw the fire break out of the
overhang for the valet parking area.
QUESTION: That rapidly, hmm? Let’s backtrack just
a little bit and tell me what you observed when you got
the engine in reference to people or smoke or fire or whatever.
Okay, when we pulled in there was no smoke visible, there
was no rush of people trying to get out of the hotel. I
remember one female standing to the right of the doors
as we pulled up and she was coughing and crying a little
Dressed in a dark velvet type dress suit type thing, you
know. Okay, that’s really, there may have been some
off to the other side of the entry way but there was, you
know, there wasn’t any indication of any panic or
anything and ah, went on in. Okay, also when we got back
out, this fire had broken out of the ah, valet area down
there. At the same time the fire through these glass doors
off to this side threw them open and the fire was burning
with a fire storm appearance, you know, from the floor
up and it was swirling and that’s where we set our
line in there. I got in about 30 feet and Captain Smith
and one of the other firefighters came in, I believe, this
QUESTION: This, ah, the door you’re making reference
to is a revolving door approximately 20 feet inside of the
main swinging doors on the Flamingo side, right?
Right. And then we had sort of a perimeter established.
I think the feeling was if there were still people inside,
they would have a haven to get to, you know to get on out
and sort of hold things in check. You can see the ceiling
where we were. Pretty much intact.
QUESTION: You made reference Bert, to the fire breaking
out, on the east side of where you had originally stopped
QUESTION: Now, how far is that from the main entrance where
you came in?
Ah, approximately 10 to 15 feet east of the main entrance.
QUESTION: And you say you did see the fire rolling out
then after you had exited the building?
Okay, as the doors blew open from the pressure inside there
was a momentary flash of fire on the floor and
went up the side of the door. We knocked that out and went
in with one of the lines. Then, we were using two inchand-
a-half lines at this point to give us roughly four minutes
of fire fighting time. The water ran out, we backed out
and jacked a three-inch line down to the hydrant in front
of the hotel on Flamingo and from then on Captain Smith
and firefighters Toby Lamuraglia and Ted, oh I can’t
remember his name now, okay, anyway, they came back in
and I headed upstairs with Captain Ashley for the fire,
you know, portion of the rescue. And that’s as much
seen. The rest was all smoke in the hallways upstairs.
QUESTION: Okay - yeah - let’s go back to the smoke
that you observed in the casino after you’d made your
entry and the wall of smoke and flame that you had made
reference to. The color involved was what, grey,
Okay - the stratified layer that was 6 to 8 feet from the
ceiling just hanging there, there was no movement then,
like it had been there...
QUESTION: How far out through the casino did that reach?
Ah, roughly one quarter of the distance of the whole floor
from that area to...
QUESTION: From the east end where the Deli is?
Right. About a quarter of the distance. Then the rest of
the ah, it came to a point, you know it was flat,
stratified on the bottom and it beveled back up to the
ceiling, back into that area. Then we saw the smoke cloud,
the fire cloud, whatever, it was dense black smoke and
you could see little fringes of flame breaking out as the
QUESTION: Right. Ah, did you and your crew have air packs
on at this time?
Right. When we went in the first time we had our air packs
on, forcible entry tools and the high rise pack, 150
ft. of inch-and-a-half hose which we layed down when we
got back out and took our cross lays off.
QUESTION: Okay, ah, is there anything else that you can
remember about the situation? How the fireprogressed
through the casino ah, people, the direction they were
running, ah, how much panic was involved?
There were I would say ten to fifteen, maybe 20 people
at the most, on the casino floor gaming and, ah, I saw
three or four people coming out of the delicatessen area
and they started running across this ramp that come over
these doors in front of us here and the people as the cloud
progressed through the casino floor, as much as I saw of
it, then they started scattering to the sides of the casino
area to get up here and get on, you know, get to an exit.
didn’t see anything from the point where we turned
around and headed this way. When we got to the doors, you
know, it felt like the fire had pushed us outside, the
smoke had dropped so fast, you know.
QUESTION: You say the smoke had dropped, what, approximately...
About say three to four feet from the floor at this point
where the swinging doors are.
QUESTION: How dense was the smoke at that time?
QUESTION: Inasmuch as your visibility?
It was dense enough and hot enough to blister my plastic
dome on my helmet, you know, I had to replace it.
QUESTION: That occurred on your way out.
Right. As I hit this door here I noticed it, I heard it
snap and the one condenser that was in it - as I went over
here when I started bringing my line into these doors that
were thrown open I put my face shield down and I
thought, well, you know, what’s wrong with it, you
know, I tried to wipe it off and then I didn’t pay
to it. I just noticed that I couldn’t see anything
so I flipped it back up, you know, a little bit so I’d
visibility. But the heat got it right here. I was standing
up and, you know, it blistered my...
QUESTION: Alright, in reference to the heat blistering
your face shield, ah, to give us a little better idea -
tall are you Bert?
Six foot, six.
QUESTION: Is there anything more you can add?
No, I don’t think so, that’s pretty much it.
Okay, this is going to be Investigator Burns again. We’re
going to be ending this taped conversation with
Report of interview with Kurt Schlueter, 4543 Grand Ave.,
Western Springs, Illinois, 312-246-0653, by John F. Rice,
on November 22, 1980, at the MGM Hotel.
Mr. Schlueter is a Firefighter from Western Springs, Illinois,
who was visiting the MGM Grand Hotel on
November 21, 1980. He stated as follows:
He and two of his friends entered the Coffee Shop in the
MGM at 7: 15 a.m. November 21, 1980. (He remembers
the exact time, because a girl in front of him asked the
waitress what time it was.) He and his companions David
Beshoar and Perry Beshoar were seated along the wall that
separates the Coffee Shop from the Deli. Mr. Schlueter
said that they had just been served coffee when a security
guard came in and told them that there was a fire in the
and asked them to leave. Mr. Schlueter had not smelled
any smoke up to this time.
He and his companions left the Coffee Shop and as they
exited Mr. Schlueter looked to his left and saw smoke
and flames coming from the Deli. Mr. Schlueter said that
the smoke was coming from the Deli. Mr. Schlueter said that
the smoke was about head level at this time. He began assisting
in moving people out toward the Flamingo Street exit.
About a minute later the smoke was down to waist level.
He and his friends opened the emergency doors on the Flamingo
Street side and were assisting people out the doors. While
standing at the emergency exit, Mr. Schlueter looked
back and observed flames rolling out of the Deli. He estimates
the total elapsed time at three minutes. He could see the
Casino filling with smoke. It all appeared to be coming
from the Deli. There was not noticable flame in the Casino
itself at this time.
Suddenly, he stated, there was a large rolling mass of
smoke forced him and his friends to abandon the doorway
and he couldn’t see anything more. He proceeded down
the outside stairs and stood across the street on the North
of Flamingo. About five minutes later he saw flames and
smoke shoot out of the front of the hotel.
Mr. Schlueter who is a firefighter, believes that it was
a back draft that occurred when the side and front doors
were opened that produced the rolling mass of smoke that
drove him from the doorway.